The first people they approached were India and Skylar. India swayed with a blanketed bundle tucked against her body. A toddler with auburn ringlets was cocked on Skylar’s hip. Colt stood behind India talking to Kade, who also had a toddler clinging to him. Cam released her hand and moved between his brother and cousin.
India smiled. “We didn’t know if you guys would make it. Anton is off running with the boys?”
“And girl,” Skylar said dryly. “I don’t know why Eliza is so determined to keep up with her boy cousins.”
“Because she is a girl, that’s why. I remember it well.” Keely snuck in the group and held her hands out. “Shannie, come with Aunt Keely and we’ll go see what the pack is up to.”
Shannie practically jumped into Keely’s arms.
Domini wasn’t surprised when India and Skylar’s discussion returned to business. “It pisses me off she had to go looking for work at all.”
“Carolyn didn’t invite Casper and Joan, did she?”
“No. I know she invited Jessie. I don’t know about Tell and Dalton. But if Jessie shows up Brandt will probably be with her. I’m so glad they’re helping each other through this.”
Domini didn’t have a clue what they were talking about. Should she ask? If she didn’t would they think she didn’t give a damn about Cam’s family?
Skylar must’ve sensed her curiosity. “Sorry. I don’t know if Cam told you about what happened with Jessie after Luke’s funeral?”
She shook her head.
“Casper kicked Jessie out of the trailer she’d shared with Luke and he told her she had no financial claim on any part of the McKay Ranch and she was on her own.”
“Afraid so. Jessie had nowhere to live, no job, no place for her horses or her llamas. Poor girl. Her dad is still chasing the rodeo circuit. Her mom has remarried and is living on the Shoshone reservation with her new husband.”
“If she needs a job I could always use extra help at Dewey’s—”
Skylar squeezed her arm. “You are such a sweetie, Domini, to offer. I needed to hire someone to replace Nadia, so Jessie is working for me at Sky Blue. Brandt tracked down a rental place outside of Moorcroft with a small pasture so she’s kept her animals.”
“That is so awful. I didn’t know.” Domini wondered why Cam hadn’t told her. Wouldn’t that be something you’d tell your spouse?
Like you have any right to judge him on keeping secrets.
“Cam keeps to himself and generally stays out of family—I mean ranch—business. Anyway, Casper’s behavior caused another big rift with the McKay families. Even Casper’s sons are pissed off at him. So in addition to losing their brother…”
Hudson fussed and Colt was right there. “I’ll take him.”
India handed the baby over, but followed Colt to the house anyway.
Skylar sighed. “My sister is absolutely smitten with her son. She’s as bad as Chassie was.”
“Did someone say my name?” Chassie inquired sweetly behind Skylar.
Domini and Skylar turned.
Chassie shifted her roly-poly baby boy from one hip to the next. One chubby hand gripped Chassie’s long braid. “Westin, honey, let go of mama’s hair.”
He cooed, blinked enormous hazel eyes and blew a big spit bubble.
“Blowing me kisses won’t charm me, buddy boy.” She kissed the top of his blond head and attempted to pry his fingers off her braid.
“Need some help?” Domini asked.
“It’d be great if you’d distract him.”
Domini made goofy faces. Poked his round belly until he giggled while Chassie freed her hair.
“Thanks.” She smooched Westin’s plump cheek. “You should show Domini how good you are at giving kisses.”
“I’ll take a kiss,” she said, leaning in. She caught a whiff of powdery baby smell as Westin’s cool mouth connected with her cheek, leaving a drooly wet mark. She laughed and looked up to see Cam staring at her.
The soft, wistful look in his eyes caused her to break eye contact. Caused her stomach to lurch with dread. Caused an immense amount of guilt.
Skylar said, “I haven’t been into Dewey’s in ages. It’s a nightmare to take three kids to a restaurant.”
“Not much has changed.”
Westin wiggled in Chassie’s arms. When she shifted her hold, he arched his back and protested loudly.
“I am not putting you down, so stop fussing.” Chassie flicked her hair aside as Westin tried to snatch it again. “He’s already trying to walk. It’s driving me nuts.”
“You want them to walk and you don’t realize how easy you had it when they weren’t walking.” Skylar smiled. “We weren’t anxious for Peyton and Shannie to start walking at all, after dealing with Eliza, the pink tornado.”
Westin pushed on Chassie’s chest and attempted to either throw himself to the ground, or shinny down her body. When neither option worked, he wailed with full lung power.
“Look at what you’ve done now with that caterwauling. Daddies are gonna come running.”
Sure enough, Trevor and Edgard were both there instantly.
“What’s wrong?” Trevor said as Westin dove into his arms.
Edgard rubbed Westin’s back. “He sounds tired.”
“He’s mad because I won’t let him roll in the dirt.”
“Shoot, Chass, boys get dirty. He just wants to be runnin’ with his cousins.”
Chassie rolled her eyes at Edgard.
The dinner bell clanked.
“I should track down Anton and make sure he eats something besides cookies,” Domini said.
Cam’s hands landed on her shoulders. “Let him be. I’m sure he’s havin’ a great time. Plus, I need to make sure you eat.”
When Domini and Cam were in the food line, she felt guilty seeing Macie, Keely and AJ running around behind the serving tables helping Carolyn.
“I recognize that guilty look, princess,” Cam murmured. “Next time, when you’re feeling better, I’m sure Ma would appreciate your help.”
Sometimes it amazed her how well Cam read her.
The kids got in line. Red faced, sweaty, dirty. Carolyn kicked them out of line and sent them to the pump to wash up. Grama ruled the clan with a velvet fist.
She turned to follow Anton’s blond head in the crowd of dark-headed boys and found herself looking into Carson McKay’s face. Into blue eyes identical to Cam’s. Uncanny, how all Carson’s offspring had his eyes. He gave her a dimpled, charming smile. “We’re glad to have you here, Domini.”